Earlier this month, Steve Roatch, CEO of Twentyseven Global, attended the first Tech CEO Retreat hosted by the Kansas City Tech Council. The retreat was comprised of Kansas City CEOs from enterprise companies with household names alongside mid-level technology firms. The focus was on addressing the state of the industry and looking forward to the future of tech in Kansas City.

The retreat kicked off with the unveiling of a report commissioned by the Tech Council, asserting Kansas City as an emerging tech hub in the Midwest, but with a significant lack of skilled workers. In the last quarter of 2016, according to the report, there were nearly 4,700 unfilled tech jobs in the metro.

For Roatch, what stood out from the report was the confirmation that KC is a net importer of tech talent. He said, “There are more tech jobs than there are tech professionals graduating from the universities. This report confirms to me that there is incredible opportunity for tech workers in Kansas City as well as technology service providers to address a chronically underserved market.”

Roatch firmly believes everyone has a role in helping Kansas City capitalize on this opportunity. He said, “If Kansas City is to deliver on the promise of being an emerging tech hub, then everyone must do their part. Parents should encourage their children to seek STEM careers; educators must infuse technology throughout the curriculum; and employers of tech talent must source this talent creatively.”

According to John Rymer, tech industry analyst at Forrester and one of the presenters at the retreat, software and business are now indistinguishable. Whereas the big companies once had an advantage over smaller companies, now it’s all about speed. The faster a company can innovate, the stronger advantage they hold. One way businesses are innovating quickly is by using software. They are modernizing core operations, adding new automations and developing new customer front-ends — which is where Twentyseven Global comes in. The process of automating and improving your customer connections can be a source of competitive advantage, as Roatch recognized when he founded Twentyseven Global nine years ago. He said, “This is especially critical for the small and medium sized businesses out there, and at the same time, we find that this market is chronically underserved.”